Back to my Google Apps story! In a previous post, I explained how I got the idea last year to bring Google Apps to my school. Now came the crucial part: signing up. After all, having an idea is one thing; making that idea a reality so that it’s a systemic part of your school is another.
Despite my excitement, I had a lot of questions: Would signing up for Google Apps Education Edition be easy? Would it really be free, or would there be a catch? And would there be support if I got stuck?
(You may ask, What about getting IT support for the shift? I have to say, That part was easy for me. My school is relatively small, and there was a definite need, so it took just one conversation with the Director of Technology to get the ball rolling. If you’re in a big school, there may be more hoops. Here are 10 Reasons to try it.)
It was June, and school was out, so I had a lot of time to make mistakes and do things the right way. Tip: Don’t try a major tech overhaul in the middle of the year. I found out quickly, though, that the process was easy. Google even has a six-week integration plan to help you get started.
First I had to buy a domain name. This seemed daunting but ended up fairly easy. There are a number of web hosting companies, and after a few minutes of research, I decided on Go Daddy. The hardest part was to find a domain that had not yet been taken but that would be short enough and simple enough for students to remember. After all, nobody wants an email address like markisero@thepublichighschoolinsanfrancisco. I persevered, found a good domain name, paid the $10, and had my first big realization: All my students are going to have free accounts for just $10 a year!
This can’t be true, I thought. Well, it was. I found that out by doing the second step, signing up for Google Apps. This was ridiculously easy. I typed in just three pages of information, and I was done. Really? Yep.
As a non-techie kind of guy, the only slightly challenging part was the last. I had to “verify domain ownership,” which means I had to prove to Google that I indeed owned the domain on which they were going to add hundreds of free email accounts. This sounded tricky, but fortunately, the site gave me two options: (1) creating a CNAME record, or (2) uploading an HTML file. I chose the first one, which required me to go back to my domain on Go Daddy and change some settings, and within five minutes, I was finished. Yes, it was really that easy.
Even had I stumbled, I could have relied on Google’s support information and videos. It’s remarkable how such a powerful service was so easy to implement. What I thought was going to be hard ended up being easy.
And now, I could focus on the fun part: creating users, setting up all the services, and deploying Apps at my school. It was still June, so I had a lot of time to get ready for the upcoming year.